Review A Beginner’s Guide to the Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet has been around since the 1800s, although it has recently gained popularity.

Its adherents think that eating largely raw foods is beneficial to human health and has several advantages, such as weight loss and improved overall health.

However, health professionals advise that eating a largely raw diet may have serious health repercussions.

The benefits and drawbacks of the raw food diet are discussed in this article, as well as how it works.

What Is a Raw Food Diet, and How Does It Work?

The raw food diet, often known as raw foodism or raw veganism, consists of largely or entirely raw and unprocessed foods.

If a food has never been heated above 104–118°F (40–48°C), it is termed raw. It should also not be refined, pasteurized, pesticide-treated, or otherwise processed.

Instead, the diet allows for juicing, blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting as alternative preparation methods. The raw food diet, like veganism, is often plant-based, consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

While the majority of raw food diets are entirely plant-based, some people do ingest raw eggs and dairy. Raw fish and meat, which are less prevalent, may also be included.

Taking supplements is also often discouraged on a raw food diet. The diet’s proponents frequently claim that it will provide you with all of the nutrients you require.

Cooking foods, according to supporters, is also hazardous to human health since it destroys natural enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, and reduces the “life energy” that they think exists in all raw or “living” foods.

People adhere to the raw food diet because they feel it provides benefits such as weight loss, better vitality, higher energy, improved chronic illness management, improved general health, and a lower environmental impact.

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“The raw food diet consists primarily of unprocessed foods that have not been heated over a certain temperature.”

How to Adhere to a Raw Food Diet

To adhere to the raw food diet, ensure that at least 75% of your food is raw.

The majority of raw food diets consist mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Grain and legumes are sometimes allowed, although they must be soaked or sprouted first.

Consumables

  • All fruits are fresh.
  • All vegetables are raw.
  • Nuts and seeds, raw
  • Sprouted or soaked raw grains and legumes
  • Dried fruits and lean meats
  • Almond milks
  • Unprocessed nut butters
  • Olive and coconut oils, both cold-pressed
  • Kimchi and sauerkraut are examples of fermented foods.
  • Seaweed
  • Sprouts
  • If preferred, raw eggs or dairy
  • If desired, raw meat or fish

Avoided Foods

  • Prepared fruits and vegetables, meats, and grains
  • Baked goods
  • Nuts and seeds, roasted
  • Oils refined
  • Common table salt
  • Refined sugars and wheat flour
  • Pasteurized juices and dairy products
  • Tea and coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Pasta
  • Pastries
  • Chips
  • Additional processed foods and beverages

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“The raw food diet consists entirely of uncooked foods. Foods that have been processed or refined are discouraged.”

Is Raw Food Better for You Than Cooked Food?

Supporters of the raw food diet think that eating largely or all raw foods is beneficial to human health. This theory, like many of the raw food diet’s key beliefs, is not supported by science.

In fact, studies demonstrate that both cooked and raw foods are beneficial to one’s health.

One of the primary reasons why the raw food diet opposes cooking is the assumption that cooking kills natural enzymes in foods. Advocates of the diet claim that these enzymes are essential for human health and digestion.

Most enzymes denature, or unravel or alter structure, when exposed to high temperatures. Many enzymes, however, denature in the stomach’s acidic environment regardless.

Indeed, the body already creates enzymes to aid in chemical processes such as digestion and energy synthesis. Cooking destroys the nutritious value of foods, according to another key concept of the raw food diet.

Cooking does reduce the amount of certain minerals in food, particularly water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B and C vitamins. Cooking, on the other hand, enhances the availability of other antioxidants and nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene.

Cooking also aids in the inactivation or destruction of some toxic chemicals found in food. Cooking grains and legumes, for example, decreases phytic acid and lectins. When consumed in excessive numbers, these can prevent your body from absorbing minerals.

Furthermore, cooking destroys dangerous microorganisms.

For these reasons, it is critical to consume a range of both cooked and raw foods. Check out this article to discover more about the advantages of cooked versus raw foods.

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“Cooked food is healthier than raw food. Cooking depletes some nutrients while increasing others. It also eliminates toxic substances and kills bacteria.”

Nutritional Analysis: Pros and Cons

A raw food diet has several advantages. It is mostly composed of fresh vegetables and fruits. It also includes other foods high in minerals and fiber.

A raw food diet, to its credit, restricts the consumption of foods that have been linked to bad health when consumed in excess, such as processed added sugar and junk food. Furthermore, because raw foods are low in calories, they almost always result in weight loss. Despite this, there are numerous disadvantages to a raw food diet.

When a person goes from a primarily cooked to a mostly raw diet, their calorie consumption is likely to drop considerably. Some people may be unable to consume enough raw food to meet their daily calorie requirements.

This is due, in part, to the fact that, while fruits and vegetables are healthful, they do not provide enough protein or calories to constitute the majority of the diet. Cooking also improves the digestion of meals, making it easier for your body to obtain calories and nutrients from them.

In some circumstances, raw foods provide much fewer calories to your body. Cooking also boosts your body’s absorption of some nutrients and antioxidants. Cooking also improves the digestion of meals, making it easier for your body to obtain calories and nutrients from them.

In some circumstances, raw foods provide much fewer calories to your body. Cooking also boosts your body’s absorption of some nutrients and antioxidants.

Finally, raw diets are nutritionally unbalanced since they must consist primarily of fats or fruits in order to meet calorie requirements. This means that raw diets may be lacking not just in calories, but also in certain vitamins, minerals, and protein.

RECAP

“Raw food diets are composed of healthful foods and are likely to result in weight loss, although they are frequently deficient in some nutrients and calories.”

Review of Health Benefits: Pros and Cons

Many of the purported health benefits, like most of the ideas underlying the raw food diet, are unsubstantiated by evidence.

Some studies have concluded that the raw food diet has favorable health advantages, however the majority of the study has found that it has detrimental health impacts.

A raw food diet reduced triglyceride levels and blood cholesterol, according to one study of participants who followed it. However, it also reduced “good” HDL cholesterol levels and caused many people to be vitamin-B12 deficient.

Another study discovered that persons who ate a raw diet for an extended length of time had an elevated risk of tooth erosion. Nonetheless, research has repeatedly showed that a raw food diet is connected with lower body fat.

One research of people who followed a raw diet for an extended period of time discovered that it was connected with significant weight loss.

After converting to a raw diet, males lost an average of 21.8 pounds (9.9 kg) while women lost an average of 26.4 pounds (12 kg). However, the survey found that 15% of males and 25% of women were underweight.

Furthermore, 70% of women on the diet noticed disruptions in their menstrual cycle. In addition, over one-third of women experienced amenorrhea, which means they stopped menstruation as a result of being underweight.

Another small study discovered that persons who followed a raw vegan diet had much reduced calorie consumption and body fat than those who did not. Despite this, they had low protein, calcium, and vitamin D consumption.

The same study discovered that raw vegan diet participants had poor bone mass, possibly due to low protein and calorie consumption.

Overall, a raw food diet may result in weight loss or even enhance some health markers, such as blood lipids. Nonetheless, the high danger of unfavorable health impacts surpasses the potential benefits of this diet.

If you want to attempt a raw food diet, here’s an example of a week on a vegan raw food diet.

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“Raw food diets are linked to weight loss, according to research. They are, however, linked to substantial unfavorable health repercussions, and the downsides exceed the rewards.”

Menu Example

A raw food diet might vary depending on the foods permitted and the dieter’s eating choices.

First Day
  • Green smoothie for breakfast
  • Snack: raw carrots and hummus
  • Raw squash noodle spaghetti with pesto for lunch
  • Snacks: Strawberries with almonds
  • Raw veggie pizza for dinner
Second day
  • Fruit and chia seed pudding for breakfast
  • Salad with apples and walnuts for lunch
  • Snacks: fresh-squeezed juice and nuts
  • Raw zucchini noodle spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil for dinner
Third day
  • Breakfast: overnight oats with fruit and nuts
  • Snack: raw hummus and broccoli
  • Snacks include raw sweet potato chips and fruit.
  • Stuffed portobello mushrooms for dinner
Fourth day
  • Fruit bowl for breakfast
  • Lunch: fig-and-nut salad
  • Snack: raw nut butter and banana
  • Raw lasagna for dinner
Fifth day
  • Green smoothie for breakfast
  • Buddha dish of sprouted quinoa for lunch
  • Snack: berries and apples
  • Soup with raw tomatoes and marinated vegetables for dinner
Sixth day
  • Oatmeal with berries for breakfast
  • Lunch: Avocado and fruit salad
  • Snack: Sunflower seeds and sliced bell pepper
  • Dinner: raw vegetable sushi and sliced vegetables
Seventh day
  • Raw banana pancakes with fruit for breakfast
  • Raw squash soup for lunch
  • Snack: slices of orange and nuts
  • Salad with kale and mushrooms for dinner

Is it safe and sustainable to eat raw foods?

The raw food diet is unlikely to cause severe health problems in the short run. However, if you stick to the diet for an extended period of time, you may experience complications.

A mainly raw diet makes getting adequate calories, protein, and some vitamins and minerals challenging. This diet may not provide enough calories for certain people.

The evidence also indicates that the bigger the proportion of raw food in your diet, the greater the chance of harmful impacts. Unless you take supplements, you may suffer nutritional deficiency problems as your body’s vitamin and mineral supplies deplete over time.

Vitamins B12 and D are especially difficult to obtain in raw vegan diets. Nutrition supplements, on the other hand, cannot compensate for a shortage of calories and protein in the diet.

Furthermore, consuming raw foods increases your risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

This is especially important if you consume raw dairy, eggs, or meat. Nutritionists always advise individuals to consume these only after they have been properly boiled or pasteurized.

Finally, maintaining a raw food diet might be difficult for a variety of reasons. For starters, meal options are restricted, and avoiding prepared items makes it tough to eat out or with companions.

Because raw food diets do not include cooked items, food preparation options are limited, and a raw food diet might become monotonous. Many people find eating merely cold items to be unappealing.

Finally, buying so much fresh, organic vegetables can be costly, not to mention time demanding to organize and prepare.

RECAP

“The raw food diet is unlikely to be hazardous in the short term, but it may have detrimental long-term consequences.”

Conclusion

Fresh, raw foods are an important component of a healthy diet. However, there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Cooking is essential for increasing the digestibility of some foods and minerals.

A completely or mainly raw diet is likely to produce weight loss, but it also makes meeting your nutritional needs challenging. Finally, consuming a variety of prepared and raw meals is beneficial to your health.